Andy Robertson tests negative as COVID-19 case threatens Scotland qualifier

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Andy Robertson and the rest of the Scotland squad tested negative for COVID-19 despite Stuart Armstrong returning a positive test which left two others self-isolating.

Scotland take on Israel in a Euro 2021 qualifier on Thursday night, and manager Steve Clarke will now be without a host of key players.

With the squad meeting up to prepare for this playoff semi-final, all players and staff were required to undergo two COVID-19 tests, to ensure safety with Scotland also due to face Slovakia and the Czech Republic this month.

Unfortunately, Southampton midfielder Armstrong tested positive, and while the Scottish FA confirmed that “all other members of the squad have returned negative results,” four ‘close contacts’ are required to self-isolate.

Those include Arsenal defender Kieran Tierney and Celtic midfielder Ryan Christie, with the trio withdrawing from the squad.

It is a big blow for Scotland, but it is encouraging that, in a period that has seen Thiago, Sadio Mane and now Xherdan Shaqiri test positive for COVID-19, Robertson has so far avoided it despite an outbreak in the Scotland squad.

However, the situation highlights how negligent the decision to push ahead with international fixtures amid a global pandemic was, as cases rise throughout football.

Not only has Shaqiri been forced to self-isolate and withdraw from selection for Switzerland, but so has centre-back Manuel Akanji.

ST PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - JULY 3, 2018: Switzerland's Xherdan Shaqiri with a ball in hands in the Knockout Stage Round of 16 football match between Sweden and Switzerland at Saint Petersburg Stadium (Krestovsky Stadium) at FIFA World Cup Russia 2018; Sweden won 1-0. Alexander Demianchuk/TASS

That the Swiss FA had to even confirm with local authorities that their friendly against Croatia could go ahead proves how farcical this break is.

Strangely, though, the Swiss FA also confirmed that Shaqiri’s positive test “can be attributed to a previous infection and that he is therefore not infectious.”

This would suggest that the winger had already tested positive previously, which could perhaps explain his absence from Liverpool’s pre-season training, with it reported during their time in Austria in August that a case had been discovered.

It would be no surprise if further cases emerge among the Liverpool squad in the days and weeks to come, as the logistics of an international will increase risk of infection.

On Monday, the Premier League confirmed that in their latest round of testing, nine positive cases of COVID-19 were discovered among 1,587 players and club staff, following a league-high 10 cases reported on September 28.

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